An opinion piece by Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Paul Dundas,  on the Colchester Garden Tax proposed by the Lib-Dems, Labour and Greens

There has been much reporting of the £95 “Garden Tax” charge for kerbside green waste collections over the last few days, but residents could be forgiven for being confused as to where each political party stands on the topic, particularly with the multiple views emanating from Colchester Labour.

Colchester Labour, as part of the then ruling Lib/Lab Coalition at the Town Hall, conceived and approved the charges earlier in the year together with their Liberal Democrat partners and the Greens. However, in the last week we have heard that: some Labour Councillors continuing to support it; some staying in the middle by saying they don’t support it but aren’t really against; it and others enthusiastically distributing petitions in Highwoods against one of their own policies. No wonder everyone is confused.

Since the May 2023 local elections we have also had the question as to whether Colchester Labour is an opposition party or still part of the ruling coalition. Sometimes it seems as if even they don’t know themselves. They clearly did a deal in May with the Liberal Democrats. In return for Labour being gifted all the key Committee chairs, Labour would support the Liberal Democrat budget and policies. Based on Labour’s sudden forgetfulness this week on which policies they backed or not, the Liberal Democrats would probably be justified in requesting a refund.

The record is quite clear. Charging for collecting green waste, came to Full Council in February this year as part of the budget. Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens all voted for greens waste charges, and the Conservatives voted against (see voting record below)

This is a simple on-the-record fact. Labour cannot change history and if they really want to start opposing things, they need to become a proper opposition, cancel the deal with the Liberal Democrats, hand back the committee chairs and join the Conservatives on the opposition benches.

Cllr Paul Dundas
Conservative Group Leader, Colchester City Council